Curbing Male Violence

Have you ever noticed that people always talk about the number of women who were raped each year, rather than the number of men who were rapists each year? Why is that? I think it’s because, whether we care to admit it or not, there’s a twisted bias in the world that if women get raped, they’ve somehow asked for it. When it comes to violence against women, it’s the women who get to “own” the crime as well as the statistics.

It has been ever thus. Women are expected to limit their freedoms to curb male violence. If you don’t want to get assaulted, ladies, you should avoid going out at night. You shouldn’t be in that parking garage. You shouldn’t dress like that. Don’t take male-oriented jobs. Don’t draw attention to yourself. Be quiet. Never travel alone.

I genuinely believe that more is not done to curb male violence precisely because that violence helps keep us women in our place. I’d call it a disgusting trend, but a trend implies that change occasionally happens. This is more aptly described as a disgusting culture.

Sadly, the focus on the victim rather than the perpetrator isn’t going to change if we sit back and wait for the men to make the changes. Women need to speak out to adjust the focus to the ones committing the crimes. We need to raise our boys to understand that violence is never okay. I also wish more women would take self defense classes. We are not, nor do we ever have to be, helpless.

And yes, I know that men are raped, too, and that most men are not violent. But every woman I know has been the victim of some form of violence, abuse, or harrassment or another, so you do the math. It’s time to claim our freedoms and make these criminals sweat.

To show you how pervasive the culture of having women own victimhood really is, I must confess that I almost included a picture of a woman as a victim here, rather than one taking charge. Shame on me.

Read any good books lately? Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

The Waste of a Perfectly Good Little Old Lady

If I make it to the age of 72, if I’m in relatively good health and if I have the good fortune to be able to retire, I hope I’m doing something with that amazing extra time. I hope I’m using myself as a force for good. I hope I’m volunteering for a few hours a week, and/or keeping up with my little free library and/or mentoring someone and/or cultivating a healthy organic garden. Something positive, no matter how small.

I believe that everyone makes some type of impact on this world. Only you can decide what kind of an impact you will make. There’s a wide spectrum that can range somewhere between dedicating every waking hour to some form of service, or, at the opposite extreme, being a completely toxic waste of space that everyone secretly wishes would hurry up and die already. (Harsh, but true.) I’d like to fall on the more positive end of that spectrum, but I doubt I’ll be too radical. I’m not Mother Teresa. Even in my 50’s I do cherish my spare time and my naps. But I hope that if I’m capable of acting at all, I’m able to be an asset, not act like a despicable liability.

Here’s what I will not do, under any circumstances. I will not cause my neighbors to fear for their lives, as Jan Myers, 72, of Shoreline, Washington has done. According to this article, she has been charged with one count of malicious harassment, but in essence she has made the life of one of her Vietnamese-American neighbors a living hell.

Apparently this toxic woman has been hurling racial slurs at her neighbor for years, but recently it escalated into actual threats. She started driving her car up and down the road, yelling for her neighbor to come out, calling her names, and saying that she (the neighbor) wasn’t going to live very long. Myers, of course, is denying everything, but that contradicts the multiple cell phone videos that her neighbor showed the police.

I feel so sorry for her neighbor. No one should be made to feel unsafe in one’s own home. It should be a sanctuary. It should be the one place where you can count on feeling secure, unjudged, and completely yourself.

I wish I knew who that neighbor was so that I could go over and befriend her, take her flowers or cookies or something, and let her know that not everyone feels the way Myers does. I’d exchange contact information with her, and tell her that if that evil old bat threatens her again, just call me and I’ll come over and stand by her side, and that my home would always be a safe place to come to as well. I hope that if her other neighbors see what is going on, they have done so. We all need to take care of one another.

If you haven’t learned how to be a decent human being by age 72, you are wasting your gift of longevity. If all you can do is hate, and make the people around you be afraid and miserable, you are doing nothing but taking up space in this world and making it a much worse place. Is that really the hill you want to die on? I wouldn’t want that to be my legacy at any time in life, but especially not in my later years. I want to make those years golden, not sh** brown.

Just sayin’.

Cultivate an attitude of gratitude! Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Mid-Month Marvels: Lions Recycle for Sight

A recurring theme in this blog is the celebration of people and/or organizations that have a positive impact on their communities. What they do is not easy, but it’s inspirational, and we don’t hear enough about them. So I’ve decided to commit to singing their praises at least once a month. I’m calling it Mid-Month Marvels. If you have any suggestions for the focus of this monthly spotlight, let me know in the comments below!

Check out my new glasses! Woo hoo!

The fact that I can always get new glasses when I need them is basically because I was born in this country and happen to have a job that actually has vision insurance. In other words, dumb luck on my part. Not everyone is that lucky.

According to the World Health Organization, it is estimated that 120 million people are visually impaired because of uncorrected far and near sightedness. I know that I am practically rendered helpless without my glasses. I can’t imagine going through life like that. It’s a particular problem for children who are going to school and can’t even see what the teacher is writing on the board. How do you learn to read if you can’t see the words?

All my life I have been donating my old pairs of glasses to the Lions Club Recycle for Sight Program, because when the Lions Club saw this need, they wanted to fill it, and so do I. But the other day it occurred to me that I’ve never known what happens next with the glasses I donate. So I decided to find out.

According to the Lions Club, most eyeglass places will accept old glasses, including sunglasses and reading glasses, for the Lions Club. You can also contact the Lions to ask for a donation drop box that you can put at your place of business or your community gathering place. The Lions will pick these glasses up on a regular basis.

Once they have them, they ship them to the nearest Lions Eyeglass Recycling center. Volunteers there will sort the broken ones from the intact ones, clean them, and determine the prescription strengths. The broken ones are recycled for scrap, and the money they get from that goes to support local Lions Club Projects. This also helps keep things out of the landfills, and reduces the amount of stuff you have lying around and taking up space, which is nothing but a good thing.  None of the funds from Lions club donations go for administrative expenses. All are for charity.

The usable glasses are packaged and stored for when they have eyeglass dispensing missions around the world, where vision screenings are performed and the glasses are provided free of charge.

I encourage you to contact the Lions Club to obtain a collection box if you have the space, or donate your old specs at the nearest collection box, and if you can, please support the club financially so they can continue their efforts to bring sight to the wider world.

Personally, I love the idea of some kid discovering the pure joy of reading while wearing my glasses. So, thanks for your support!

Isn’t it great to be able to see? And have your read any good books lately? Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

On Losing Friends

There are very few things on earth that make you feel more lonely than having to say goodbye to a beloved friend. I’ve had to do that twice in the midst of this already isolating pandemic, and not a day goes by when I don’t have tears in my eyes at some point because of it.

What? Oh, no, they didn’t die. That would be infinitely more tragic. But they both broke my heart, making me feel like I was dying. Either way, it’s a mourning process, and one I barely have the strength for.

There just comes a point when you have to stop tolerating bad behavior from the people you love. You have a right to set boundaries. You have a right to put your foot down. You have a right to say, “No, you don’t get to do this.”

You should always be your own best friend. You need to put a stop to things that hurt your heart, even when they come from people with whom you have had decades of happy memories as well as a mountain of emotional investment. If you’ve tried to communicate and/or work things out and gotten no results, you have to say, “This far and no further.”

So for future reference, here are a few boundaries that I have set:

  • You don’t get to insult people you don’t even know on my Facebook page. Respect me, respect my friends. You don’t have to agree with them, but you don’t get to attack them.
  • If you espouse hate speech or try to encourage violent behavior, I don’t want you in my universe.
  • If you’re going to stand me up, blow me off, or take advantage of me, you better have a stellar excuse. And if you never return my calls and then accuse me of not being a good enough friend, you’ve made my choice for me.
  • If you make promises and then don’t keep them, I will lose trust in you. It’s hard to maintain a friendship under those circumstances.
  • You don’t get to exaggerate other dear friend’s behavior to the point of damaging their reputation, simply so you can win an argument. If you tell me that a friend I have known for decades, who has a reputation of never saying an unkind word to anyone, has suddenly verbally attacked you without any discernible motivation and with no proof whatsoever provided by you, I have to call foul. Not only are you insulting my friend, but you’re insulting my judgment.
  • You don’t have to like all the things I like, but if something is extremely important to me, the least you can do is be supportive of that thing. My blog, for example, is me on a page. When you continually reject my invites to my Facebook group, that’s painful enough. But when I offer to send you a link to one of my blog posts and you say, essentially, “Please don’t,” that’s like a rejection of me. How hard would it be to just say thanks and fake it?
  • If you know you’ve been hurtful, set aside your pride and apologize. If you choose your pride over our friendship, then the friendship must never have had much value to you in the first place.

For what it’s worth, I tried to salvage the wreckage of one of these friendships. I tried really hard. He just bent the truth more and more to prop up his stance, until finally I was the one who felt broken.

And in the other situation, it suddenly occurred to me that this person has made me feel bad more than once, and never has apologized, not once, in all the decades I’ve known him. I’m tired of begging to be treated decently. I shouldn’t have to ask for an apology. It should be a natural process once you know you’ve hurt someone. I realized that if I just swallowed my pain yet again and accepted my second class status in his world one more time, it would rot away my soul. This person could still apologize, and we could move on, but I’m pretty sure he never will. I suspect he is sorry, but I don’t think I’ve ever meant enough to him to merit an apology. And that crushes me.

That all of this is happening during a pandemic is bad enough, but then add on top of it the fact that I moved to the Pacific Northwest 6 years ago, and, with one or two wonderful exceptions, I’m struggling to make friends out here like I made the other 5 decades of my life.

It’s hard to make new friends after a certain age. Older adults have well established lives and obligations, so the opportunity to bond is just not there as much. That, and people are a lot more standoffish out here than I’m used to. I’m pretty sure I’ll never quite fit in. I can’t remember the last time someone took the initiative to do anything with me. Out here, I do all the asking, with very mixed sucess.

Oh, and I just remembered that one woman out here accused me of killing my cat and making a joke out of it, and called me a sick, sick person. When I pointed out that I haven’t owned a cat in nearly 40 years, and that I didn’t know what the heck she was talking about, she stopped talking to me. Who could even think that I could do something like that? So yeah, another boundary I’ve set is that I can only take so much crazy.

What I’m finding is that as my self-confidence and self-awareness grows, I’m less willing to put up with bad behavior. But the humiliating truth is that, my whole adult life, no one has ever called me their best friend. What does that say? I don’t know. But it hurts like hell, and it makes it hard for me to remember that quality is more important than quantity.

So, if you see me enforcing boundaries, or speaking my truth (not yours) don’t assume I’m being insecure. Instead, congratulate me for my own agency. Cheer me on for standing my ground. Think of me as strong, not defensive or paranoid. View me as healing, not broken. Is that too much to ask?

It’s just… I’m just really sad and lonely today. I’m struggling. (For what it’s worth, I wrote this more than a week ago, so I’m probably doing much better now.)

I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way. Thank GOD I have a wonderful husband and awesome dogs. It’s amazing how couch snuggles can make you feel that everything is right with the world.

Bleh. Thanks for listening. I need a hug.

Now is the perfect time to stay at home and read a good book. Try mine! I promise it isn’t as depressing as this post was! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Mason Bee Rentals

A friend of mine crowed on Facebook that she just received her mason bees in the mail. Naturally, I had to learn more. It turns out that you can rent them from rentmasonbees.com. They come to you in early spring with a bee house, a nesting block, 50-60 mason bee cocoons and a box with return postage for when you send them back in the fall. What a nifty idea!

Why mason bees? They pollinate your garden for you. They aren’t aggressive. (You really have to mess with a mason bee a lot to get stung because they’re naturally gentle creatures.) They’re super low maintenance, since you’re not dealing with honey. Just hang the box and let them do their thing. They’re also a great learning experience, and a great way to help the planet.

Why rent them? Well, each mason bee does the work of 100 honeybees. And at the end of the season, 50 mason bees can produce 500 eggs. When you send them back free of charge, the company will clean each cocoon and sterilize each nesting block to free them of predators and then safely keep them in hibernation under just the right conditions. The next season, they send these healthy bees to farmers, who need 1000 bees per acre to pollinate their crops, which, in turn, feed all of us.

What’s not to love about this program? If you’re interested, you better hurry, though, because they ship the last mason bees of the season on April 26th. So get your bee on!

Cultivate an attitude of gratitude! Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Seattle’s Weird Cold War Relic

58 years ago, the City of Seattle completed a project that is unique to this city, as so many things tend to be. It was a nuclear fallout shelter beneath Interstate 5 in the Ravenna neighborhood. It was pretty much obsolete from the minute it was finished, as people had by then realized that surviving a large scale nuclear attack was highly unlikely. Rather than let it sit empty and admit what a massive waste of money the shelter was, it became a Department of Licensing office from 1963-1977.

The room was 3000 square feet, and designed to hold 200 people. The bathrooms and decontamination showers had such narrow doors that only the most svelte of citizens could enter, and for such a large crowd there were only 3 toilets. The showers for that same crowd were serviced by one 40 gallon hot water tank. No kitchen was provided, and the instructions for the shelter suggested that people should warm canned food (which they were expected to provide themselves), in their armpits.

There were books, games and recreational equipment provided by the Red Cross. The space was also equipped with folding metal chairs, collapsible bunks and insulated paper blankets. In addition, there were escape hatches, an escape tunnel, a generator, and an air filtration system.

In case of emergency, the first 200 people to arrive would be allowed in. Everyone else would be locked out. (What could possibly go wrong?) There were additional plans, which would have been impossible to execute, to evacuate the rest of the residents of Seattle east of the Cascade Mountains.

After 1977, this place became a storage facility for WSDOT records and used furniture. Eventually it was all but abandoned except for the occasional homeless person. But even the homeless didn’t favor it, because the room is freezing cold most of the time. (Every Department of Licensing employee had to huddle around a space heater, which meant the electricity bills when it was an office were obscene.)

Check out this interesting article to see some oddly fascinating photos of this cold, lifeless, uncomfortable looking space, and reflect upon the fact that at one time in our history we were so completely terrified of utter annihilation that this silly plan seemed like a viable option.

Like this quirky little blog? Then you’ll love this book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Questions for a Conspiracy Theorist

The other day I was chatting with an acquaintance of mine. He’s very gregarious and therefore quick to start up conversations. He’s a pleasant man, the kind of person that makes you grin, but in truth we don’t have that much in common. Mostly we stick to safe topics, such as the weather.

But on this day, it turned out that the weather wasn’t as safe a topic as one would hope. He said, “Well, you know that all those tornadoes that are being kicked up out East are because they’re seeding the clouds over California to make it rain, don’t you?”

True confession: I’m not particularly quick on the uptake. I kind of blinked at him for a few seconds. I mean, what does one say when hit with such a loony concept? It’s probably best that I am a little slow in these instances, because the first thing out of my mouth would otherwise be, “You don’t really believe that, do you?”

I could easily disabuse him of this belief if he were willing to listen, which I’m sure he wouldn’t be, and if I had the energy, which I’m sure I don’t possess. I could just pepper him with the following statements and questions until he was left realizing he didn’t have a retort.

  • What are they seeding the clouds with? Because it sure isn’t working. California is dry as a freakin’ bone.
  • California consists of 163,696 square miles. How much of that stuff do they use, where do they store it, who supplies it, and how have we overlooked the hundreds of planes flying back and forth in a grid pattern to distribute the stuff?
  • If you are referring to “chemtrails”, see, also, my blog post entitled, “Debunking Chemtrails.” And besides, contrails are in sloppy, messy patterns over well-established flight paths, so these wouldn’t equally distribute this substance, whatever it’s supposed to be, and it would interfere with commercial flights, so private passengers would get awfully cranky.
  • The whole problem with having a drought is that there are very few clouds to be had, so where are the clouds coming from that they are seeding?
  • And who is “they”?
  • How do the chemicals in the West wake up the tornadoes in the East? Do they use Twitter?
  • And how are the hundreds of people it would take to pull off this little caper, the pilots, the materials producers, the distributors, the logistics personnel, the air traffic control people, the accountants, the support staff, and so on and so forth, able to keep it a secret when three people can’t keep most secrets?
  • Where are the Smart Phone pictures?
  • And if this project is causing so many weather disasters and not producing rain for California, why don’t they just stop?
  • And why is it a secret?
  • Isn’t it much more likely that it’s all of us doing our own horrible part with our disastrous carbon footprints trampling the planet (especially the major industries who are the very ones paying a great deal of money to prop up your conspiracy theory), who are the cause of the weather problems? Hmmm?
  • And even if global climate change caused by man didn’t exist, despite the fact that 95 percent of the world’s scientists say it does, why would you resist the urge to take care of the only planet we have, just in case?

But you know, while I was blinking at this guy, I suddenly felt tired. Nope. Nope. I couldn’t. I just didn’t have the energy. Because some people, as nice as they may be, just have no grounding in science, education, and critical thinking to grasp reality.

So instead, I just stammered and said, “Erm… well… California could certainly use the rain…”

And we both went on our merry ways, his way comprised of utter fantasy, and mine, at that moment, full of frustration and disappointment and shock.

Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

What Will the New Normal Look Like?

I’ve heard much chatter of late as to what the world will be like once we’ve finally developed herd immunity from COVID-19. Some people seem to think everything will revert back to the way it was when we were all more naïve about viruses, their transmission, and their impact. I don’t see that as a possibility. First of all, sorry to say, but COVID-19 will never be completely eradicated. And other pandemics are sure to follow sooner or later.

So this gives me the opportunity to make some predictions about our new normal. I’m sure I’ll look back on this blog post someday and either laugh at my foolishness or think, “Dang, you’re good!” (That’s one of the drawbacks of blogging. There’s nowhere to hide from your past idiocy. But sometimes you also get to say “I told you so!”)

The reason I’m fairly certain that we will not return to days of yore is that when my boss suggested that we’ll all probably be vaccinated by the end of the month and should therefore be able to revert back to our old shift-change-in-a-teeny-tiny-little-room habit, I had a visceral reaction. Panic, if I’m honest.

First of all, due to HIPAA, we’ll never know for sure if everyone has been vaccinated. Second, as of this writing, the scientists are not yet certain that vaccinated people cannot still be carriers of COVID, and even they say that these vaccines are not 100% effective. The news changes daily, but until I have more reassurance than that, I don’t feel like marinating in my coworkers aerosol, thankyouverymuch.

The smallest lesson from this is that a lot of us are going to find it hard to unmask. I’m struggling with the concept, and I HATE wearing a mask. I’m tired of my glasses fogging, and I feel claustrophobic. But I do it because I know that it has been the safest, most responsible thing to do. It will be difficult for me to gauge when that safety and responsibility is no longer needed.

We’ve all been changed in various negative and positive ways by this past year. We’ve slowed down. We’ve isolated ourselves a lot more. Many of us have worked from home. We’ve all learned that it is possible to do these things. Some of us have liked it, and some of us have not. I suspect that a certain percentage of those who don’t like it will find that they like it a lot more when it becomes voluntary, and they’ll adopt a sort of hybrid lifestyle.

I suspect a lot of people who have been telecommuting will resist going back to the office 5 days a week. That, and businesses will have learned that there’s a lot less overhead to pay when you don’t have to maintain as much office space. And, surprise! The work still seems to be getting done.

On the real estate front, many people who have been allowed to telecommute have sold their houses in the big cities and have moved… well, anywhere they’ve wanted to move. A lot of people have gone rural. It’s going to be really hard to persuade them to come back. (It’s sort of the opposite of, “How will you keep them down on the farm, now that they’ve seen ‘Paree’?”)

And now that I’m more aware of virus vectors, I don’t see myself ever being as comfortable going to large concert venues again. Don’t get me wrong. I miss live performances. I just don’t miss sharing my airspace with a thousand strangers.

I’ll never get used to being crammed into a crowded elevator or subway again. When people cough, I’ll feel a flashing red alert inside my head. I doubt I’ll ever enjoy long air flights again. (But then, they’ve been going down hill since the 80’s, anyway.)

Now, when I forget my mask, I don’t get very far. I feel naked and exposed and vulnerable. I’m horrified. I turn right back around and I get it. I think it will take more than a minute for me to get past that feeling.

I suspect that this virus has changed us in ways that we have yet to see. Personally, I’ve enjoyed not having a single solitary cold all year long. I wouldn’t mind continuing to wear a mask in more crowded places if I could stay on that path.

I suspect, at a bare minimum, a certain percentage of us will continue to wear masks, at least some of the time. I also suspect that those of us who do are going to get bullied for it by various factions. But we are living in a different world now, and that’s just a hard fact.

These are my predictions. What do you think? In any event, time will tell.

Like this quirky little blog? Then you’ll love this book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

April 5-12, 2021 is International Dark Sky Week!

It breaks my heart to know that more and more children are growing up without ever having seen the Milky Way. There’s nothing like being out in the middle of nowhere and looking up to see what seems like a million stars. It makes you realize that you’re just a tiny little person on a tiny little planet in a gigantic universe. It fills you with reverence.

Unfortunately, as humans take up more and more space on the planet, they bring their inefficient lighting with them. The skies glow above cities. That’s so unnecessary. There are often multiple lighting sources where one would be sufficient. There are too many unshielded lights that illuminate unnecessary areas. How much electricity is wasted, lighting up the sky? Light pollution also negatively impacts the ecosystem and our health. (Do you sleep well? I don’t.) If this trend keeps up, people will forget that the stars even exist. That would be tragic.

According to www.darksky.org, “80 percent of the world’s population lives under skyglow. In the United states and Europe 99 percent of the public can’t experience a natural night.”

Fortunately, light pollution is reversible if we take action. The International Dark Sky Association is an excellent resource toward that end. At their website, you can learn about light pollution, see an interactive map that will show you exactly how much your town glows at night (I was horrified when I looked at mine), learn how to make your lighting dark sky friendly, Find the nearest officially designated Dark Sky Place, and even learn how to talk to your neighbor about their obnoxious lights.

Tonight is the first night of International Dark Sky Week, 2021. It’s a week to raise awareness of light pollution, and it encourages you to go to a dark sky place and look up, to remember that there’s a lot out there that you may have been missing. The night sky should not be taken for granted.

The ultimate form of recycling: Buy my book, read it, and then donate it to your local public library or your neighborhood little free library! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Oh No You Don’t

I just read an article entitled, “Georgia Bill Would Criminalize Giving Water to Voters Waiting in Long Lines.” It brought me right back to standing in line to vote in Florida, year after year, in the blistering heat, on black pavement, for hours. It was brutal. I’ve gotten spoiled here in Washington State, where I can vote by mail.

Here’s the thing that I will never understand about politicians and voter suppression. If you push for these dirty tricks, you are saying, loud and clear, that you believe that the only way you can win an election is by cheating. That’s not a good look.

You have so many weapons in your voter suppression arsenal. Limiting hours at voting locations. Preventing voting by mail. Gerrymandering your district. Claiming that your tactics are only to prevent voter fraud, which has been proven time and time again to be virtually nonexistent. Requiring extensive paperwork in order to get a Voter ID. Prohibiting former felons from voting. Making the polls difficult to find or get to. And the list goes on and on and on. And on.

Yes, I get it. You’re hungry for power, and you’re willing to obtain that power by any means necessary. But the more people you alienate from the voting process, the fewer people who will want to vote for your party. What does it feel like, to shoot yourself in the foot like that?

Put roadblocks between me and the voting booth? Oh, hell no. That motivates me. I’ll crawl naked through ground glass to vote if I have to. Especially if it means I get to vote against someone who is promoting voter suppression laws. Make it as hard as you want to. I’ll still find a way to vote, and I’ll help others be able to vote, too.

Nothing will stop me from demonstrating my patriotism by voting. By trying to stop me, all you’re doing is pissing me off. And you won’t like me when I’m pissed off.

A big thanks to StoryCorps for inspiring this blog and my first book. http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5